Your accounting resume has to stand out from the crowd to help you land your next job. However, in a field like accounting, many workers have similar skills, which can make it difficult to distinguish yourself.
That said, it is definitely possible to write an attention-grabbing, compelling accounting resume that still meets the expectations of hiring managers in this conservative industry.
First, please read our general article on how to write a resume. Your accounting resume should be built on the same basic fundamentals that apply to job seekers from other professions.
The following are extra tips to fine-tune your resume for the field of accounting:
1. Stick to the chronological format, but with an executive summary instead of an objective.
The chronological resume format is so named because it lists your work experience in reverse chronological order. In addition to this common format, there is the functional resume, which lists skills and career accomplishments instead of work experience, and the combination resume, which combines features of both the chronological and functional styles.
For an accounting resume, it’s safest to stick to the chronological format. Accounting is considered a conservative industry and the chronological resume is the most conservative, widely-accepted format.
That doesn’t mean your accounting resume has to be bland, however. You can make it pack a punch by including an executive summary at the top instead of an old-fashioned resume objective, which is quickly becoming obsolete. Use your executive summary to quickly synopsis your accounting skills and relevant qualifications.
2. Use accounting keywords.
You thought the 20-second resume scan was harsh? Today, an applicant tracking system might dump your accounting resume off into the “no” pile before a human even sees it!
If you want to increase the odds of even getting a 20-second resume scan, your accounting resume needs to include accounting buzzwords.
Here are some examples of accounting buzzwords:
- Accounts receivable
- Accounts payable
- General ledger
- Month-end close
- Profit and loss statements
You can find more of these by reading job ads for accounting positions on websites like Monster.com or Craigslist. And be sure to look up job search engines that are specific to the field of accounting too.
Keep in mind that, while it’s important to use terms that are popular in your industry, your accounting resume should still be written in a way that appeals to human readers, so don’t go overboard.
3. Quantify your accomplishments.
Hey, you’re writing an accounting resume here, so it better have numbers!
So, how should you use figures to quantify your accomplishments? Well, did you find a way to make the company you worked for more efficient? How did you do it? How much money did the firm save? Did you help the company with financial planning decisions? How much money was involved?
Use numbers and dollar signs whenever you can.
4. Include your certification details.
Don’t expect employers to assume you’re a Certified Public Accountant just because you’re applying for a CPA position.
If you are a licensed CPA, spell it out in a “licenses” or “certifications” or “skills” section on your accounting resume. Include the state in which you received your certification, too.
If you aren’t involved in public accountancy, but you’ve chosen to renew your license in inactive status, you should put “inactive” immediately after the term “CPA” so you aren’t misleading anyone—if you choose to present yourself as a CPA.
5. Write a “software skills” section.
As you know, advances in technology are making the field of accounting a more technical one.
There are many different types of software packages for accounting available today and knowing how to use them is important. Beyond that, if you know how to correct software problems or develop custom software, you will certainly be in demand.
According to accounting market analyst Hunter Richards, these are some examples of software systems employers mention most often in accounting job ads:
- Microsoft Excel—mandatory!
- Systems Applications and Products—widely used, especially by big corporations
- Oracle—widely used, especially by big corporations
- Microsoft Dynamics—widely used, especially by mid-sized companies
- Sage—popular with mid-sized companies
- Quickbooks—always in demand, especially with small businesses
The following are examples of business intelligence software frequently mentioned in accounting job ads:
- Business Objects
- Crystal Reports
As you can see, it pays off to include a bulleted “software skills” section in a prominent part of your accounting resume. You can also include that you quickly adapt to new software, if it’s true.
One last accounting resume strategy…
What the above resume tips have in common is that they focus on what employers look for when scanning an accounting resume. If you have trouble thinking of what to include or leave out, put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes and consider what you would want to see if you had a stack of 100 accounting resumes weighing your desk down.
If you keep your accounting resume focused on the employer’s needs, you will have a much better chance of landing that next big job.